Nisshodo is one of my favorite spots for fresh mochi in Hawaii. Here's a look at what to order (chichi dango! stuffed mochi!) and insider tips.
I love mochi!
I have a list of food spots I share with friends who ask where they should eat in Hawaii. Nisshodo Candy Store (also called Nisshodo Mochiya) is always on the list. I've been coming to Nisshodo with family (mostly mom) since I was in elementary school...
We'd stop by for after school snacks, or to pick up a big mochi tray for potluck parties or to give as gifts. Mochi is an important part of Hawaii's snack/dessert culture, and there's no place as wonderful as Nisshodo...
Nisshodo is located in Kalihi, inside a warehouse that shares a parking lot with a strip mall. They have a small retail storefront, but it's easy to miss, so please drive slow.
What is Nisshodo famous for?
Mochi!! Lots of mochi! What is mochi? It's a sweet, chewy glutinous rice cake (which also happens to be gluten free!) Every Asian culture has their own style of mochi.
Hawaii-style mochi is my personal favorite. It's soft, sweet, and not too complicated. Hawaii mochi isn't as chewy as Japanese mochi. It's also less precious/formal and enjoyed as an everyday treat. Hawaii mochi is playful and casual (like a lot of the best things in Hawaii). You can make mochi at home or purchase from a mochi-ya (which is a mochi shop) like Nisshodo, local supermarkets, and convenience stores in Hawaii.
Mochi at Nisshodo is purchased by the piece. Head to the counter (there's not much standing room in the retail storefront, and it gets crowded during busy hours), and select the pieces you desire.
The ladies behind the counter will expertly pack everything in the box and total up your order. Most of the mochi range from $1-$2 per piece. The box pictured at the top of this post was about $10. (Unrelated side note: it's crazy to think that we're so used to paying $15+ for cocktails in bars, and yet for $10 you can get so much more! I'll take mochi over cocktails any day heheh).
What to order at Nisshodo?
I'd thought you'd never ask 🙂 Here's my order list:
Chi Chi Dango!
You see all those rectangular cuts of mochi? Those are all Chi Chi Dango pieces. Nisshodo has five types of Chi Chi Dango:
First is Plain Chi Chi Dango - this is Nisshodo's signature item. It's $8 per pound...
...look at these beautiful wooden boxes the fresh Plain Chi Chi Dango is stored in!
Each piece is individually hand wrapped. They also sell pre-packaged boxes of Plain Chi Chi Dango if you're in a rush. The Plain Chi Chi Dango comes in white and pink colors, but they're both the same (they just add a bit of color to the pink ones for variety). As little kids we use to alternating eating white and pink ones (we could eat up to a dozen in a sitting!) trying to figure out whether the white or pink ones tasted "better." They are both amazing, and both taste exactly the same.
Second is Kinako Chi Chi Dango - this is the Chi Chi Dango dusted in kinako (a roasted soybean powder, real nutty and nice). Pictured on the plate above is five pieces Kinako Chi Chi Dango and two pieces peanut butter mochi (more on that below). Kinako Chi Chi Dango is my single favorite item at Nisshodo.
Third, fourth, fifth is the Flavored Chi Chi Dango which comes in Blueberry, Orange, and Strawberry. These are fun, but Kinako Chi Chi Dango is the best.
The stuffed mochi pieces make up the bulk of Nisshodo's mochi offerings. They have so many different fillings and most involve white lima or red azuki beans.
These are the my stuffed mochi go-to flavors:
- Lilikoi (also known as passion fruit! it's the purple mochi in the photo above)
- Peanut Butter (surprising but yes!! this one is super good. it's the yellow mochi in the photo above)
- Green Tea
- Uguisu (oblong-shape, filled with tsubu-an, a coarse red azuki bean paste, and rolled in kinako)
- Melona (bright green mochi in the photo above, and yes, just like melona ice bars!)
- Tsumami (filled with shiro-an, a white lima bean paste, it's the dark green mochi with two pinches in the photo below)
I was going to only name a few favorites, but I guess I love them all too much. You won't regret trying them all ^-^
What is Manju? Imagine mochi, but made with flour instead of rice. It's more cakey, less bouncy and chewy. Nisshodo offers two types of Manju, baked or steamed. The one in the photo above is a baked manju called Kuri Manju (an oblong filled with shiro-an, white lima bean paste).
Nisshodo also makes two other kinds of baked manju: Yaki Manju (a round filled with koshi-an, a smooth red azuki bean paste) and Nashi Manju (a round filled with shiro-an, white lima bean paste).
The steamed manju is called Yabure Manju (a round filled with tsubu-an, red azuki bean paste) make sure you also try that for comparison sake.
This one is pretty cool, and I find that people either love it or don't. The pink rectangle in the center is "yokan," a Japanese dessert made out of agar agar (seaweed gelatin) and white lima bean paste. The texture is jelly-esque, but much firmer and dense thanks to the sweet lima beans. The yokan is wrapped with a spongy cake to create Yokan Maki! "Maki" means roll, so it's a yokan roll.
Let me know next time you go to Nisshodo! Hopefully you get to go more than once. This is a really special place and one of my all-time favorite sweet shops in Hawaii ^-^
Nisshodo Candy Store / Mochiya: Insider Tips
- Go early. All the good stuff tends to run out before noon.
- There are two parking stalls directly in front of the store entrance. If you can't get one of those spots, park in the connecting strip mall and walk.
- Their large mochi platters makes amazing host/hostess gift if you're going to visit a local friend. You can call ahead to order larger mochi platters.
- Taking a gift back home to the mainland? Order a bunch of small mochi boxes. They tie pretty ribbons and put a sticker on each box. Mochi is such a thoughtful (and also believed to be very lucky!) gift.
- My go-to order: 3 pieces Plain Chi Chi Dango, 3 pieces Kinako Chi Chi Dango, 1 Peanut Butter Mochi, 1 Lilikoi Mochi, 1 Uguisu Mochi, and 1 Melona Mochi.
INFO: Nisshodo Candy Store (also called Nisshodo Mochiya) | Bldg I-5, 1095 Dillingham Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96817 | (808) 847-1244 | nisshodomochicandy.com
COST: $1-2 per mochi piece
HOURS: Mon-Fri: 7am-4pm, Sat: 7am-3pm, Sun: Closed